Ap gov vocab chapter 1

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government
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The formal vehicle through which policies are made and affairs of state are conducted. Becoming Americans Common to all of these colonies was the immediately apparent need for some type of governance and a divine God. Ultimately, the beginnings of government, the formal vehicle through which policies are made and affairs of state are conducted, began to emerge. The structures created in each colony varied greatly, from initial chaos to far more inclusive and stable types of local and colo- nial self-governance. The Virginia House of Burgesses, created in 1619, was the first representative assembly in North America. In this body, twenty-two elected officials were chosen to make the laws for all of the colonists. In contrast, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, all church members were permitted the right to participate in what were called town meetings. This more direct form of government enabled a broader base of participation and allowed the colonists to keep their religious and cultural values at the center of their governing process. Eventually, the power of self-government as well as a growing spirit of independ- ence resulted in tension with British rule. Though there were differences among the colonists about the proper form, role, and function of government, there was widespread agreement that the king of England was out of touch and unresponsive to the colonists’ needs (see chapter 2).
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social contract
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An agreement between the people and their government signifying their consent to be governed. Social Contract Theory Even before the Pilgrims arrived in the New World, they saw the necessity for a social contract, an agreement among the people signifying their consent to be governed.
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Mayflower Compact
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Document written by the Pilgrims while at sea enumerating the scope of their government and its expecta- tions of citizens. While at sea, they wrote a document called the Mayflower Compact, which enumeratedthe scope of their government and its expectations of citizens. This document was based on a social contract theory of government
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social contract theory
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The belief that people are free and equal by natural right, and that this in turn requires that all people give their consent to be governed; espoused by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and influential in the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Two English theorists of the seven- teenth century, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and John Locke (1632-1704), built on conventional notions about the role of government and the relationship of the govern- ment to the people in proposing a social contract theory of government. They argued that all individuals were free and equal by natural right. This freedom, in turn, required that all people give their consent to be governed.
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direct democracy
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A system of government in which members of the polity meet to dis- cuss all policy decisions and then agree to abide by majority rule. The Framers wanted to create a political system that involved placing the people at the center of power. Due to the vast size of the new nation, direct democracy was unworkable.
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indirect democracy
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A system of government that gives citizens the opportunity to vote for representatives who work on their behalf. As more and more settlers came to the New World, many town meetings were replaced by a system of indirect democracy, however, in which people vote for representatives who work on their behalf. Repre- sentative government was considered undemocratic by ancient Greeks, who believed that all citizens must have a direct say in their governance.
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republic
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government rooted in the consent of the governed; a representative or indirect democracy. Many citizens were uncomfortable with the term democracy because it conjured up Hobbesian fears of the people and mob rule. Instead, they preferred the term republic, which implied a system of government in which the interests of the people were represented by more educated or wealthier citizens who were responsible to those who elected them.
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monarchy
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A form of government in which power is vested in hereditary kings and queens who govern in the inter- ests of all. Types of Government: The People Choose Early Greek theorists such as Plato and Aristotle tried to categorize governments by who participates, who governs, and how much authority those who govern enjoy. As revealed in Table 1.1, a monarchy, the form of government in England from which the colonists fled, is defined by the rule of one hereditary king or queen in the interest of all of his or her subjects. The Framers rejected adopting an aristocracy, which is defined as government by the few in the service of the many.
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totalitarianism
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A form of government in which power resides in a leader who rules according to self-interest and with- out regard for individual rights and liberties. The least appealing of Aristotle’s classifications of government is totalitarianism, a form of government that he considered rule by \”tyranny.\”Tyrants rule their countries to benefit themselves. This is the case in North Korea under Kim Jong-Il. In tyrannical or to- talitarian systems, the leader exercises unlimited power, and individuals have no personal rights or liberties. Generally, these systems tend to be ruled in the name of a particular religion or orthodoxy, an ideology, or a personality cult organized around a supreme leader.
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oligarchy
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A form of government in which the right to participate is conditioned on the possession of wealth, social status, military position, or achievement. Another unappealing form of government, an oligarchy, occurs when a few people rule in their own interest. In an oligarchy, participation in gov- ernment is conditioned on the possession of wealth, social status, military position, or achievement. This was the situation in South Africa during the period of apartheid.
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democracy
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A system of government that gives power to the people, whether directly or through elected representatives. Aristotle called rule of the many for the benefit of all citizens a \”polity\” and referred to rule of the many to benefit themselves as a \”democracy.\” The term democracy is derived from the Greek words demos (the people) and kratia (power or authority) and may be used to refer to any system of govern- ment that gives power to the people, either directly, or indirectly through elected representatives.The major- ity of governments worldwide are democracies.
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political culture
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Commonly shared attitudes, beliefs, and core values about how govern- ment should operate The representative democratic system devised by the Framers to govern the United States is based on a number of underlying concepts and distinguishing characteristics that sometimes conflict with one another. Taken together, these ideas lie at the core of American political culture. More specifically, political culture can be defined as com- monly shared attitudes, beliefs, and core values about how government should operate. American political culture emphasizes the values of liberty and equality; popular consent, majority rule, and popular sovereignty; individualism; and religious faith and freedom.
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personal liberty
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A key characteristic of U.S. democ- racy. Initially meaning freedom from governmental interference, today it includes demands for freedom to engage in a variety of practices without governmental interference or discrimination. Liberty and equality are the most important characteristics of the American republican form of government. The Constitution itself was written to ensure life and liberty. Over the years, however, our concepts of personal liberty have changed and evolved from freedom from to freedom to. The Framers intended Americans to be free from govern- mental infringements on freedom of religion and speech, from unreasonable searches and seizure, and so on
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political equality
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The principle that all citizens are the same in the eyes of the law. Another key characteristic of our democracy is political equality, the principle that all citizens are the same in the eyes of the law. Notions of political equality have changed dramatically from the founding time. The U.S. Constitution once treated slaves as equal to only three-fifths of a white man for purposes of assessing state population. No one then could have imagined that in 2008, Barack Obama would be elected president by large margins. President Obama even won Virginia, which is home to Richmond, the former capital of the Confeder- ate States of America.
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popular consent
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The principle that governments must draw their powers from the consent of the governed. Popular consent, the principle that governments must draw their powers from the consent of the governed, is another distinguishing characteristic of American democ- racy. Derived from John Locke’s social contract theory, the notion of popular consent was central to the Declaration of Independence. Today, a citizen’s willingness to vote rep- resents his or her consent to be governed and is thus an political equality The principle that all citizens are the same in the eyes of the law. popular consent The principle that governments must draw their powers from the consent of the governed. majority rule The central premise of direct democracy in which only policies that collectively garner the support of a majority of voters will be made into law. popular sovereignty The notion that the ultimate author- ity in society rests with the people. natural law A doctrine that society should be governed by certain ethical principles that are part of nature and, as such, can be understood by reason. essential premise of democracy. Large numbers of nonvoters can threaten the operation and legitimacy of a truly democratic system.
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majority rule
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The central premise of direct democracy in which only policies that collectively garner the support of a majority of voters will be made into law. Majority rule, another core political value, means that officials will be elected and policies will be made into law only if the majority (normally 50 percent of the total votes cast plus one) of citizens in any political unit support such changes. This princi- ple holds for both voters and their elected representatives. Yet, the American system also stresses the need to preserve minority rights, as evidenced by myriad protections of individual rights and liberties found in the Bill of Rights.
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popular sovereignty
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The notion that the ultimate author- ity in society rests with the people. Popular sovereignty, or the notion that the ultimate authority in society rests with the people, has its basis in natural law, a doctrine that society should be governed by certain ethical principles that are a part of nature and, as such, can be understood by rea- son.
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natural law
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A doctrine that society should be governed by certain ethical principles that are part of nature and, as such, can be understood by reason. has its basis in natural law, a doctrine that society should be governed by certain ethical principles that are a part of nature and, as such, can be understood by rea- son. Ultimately, political authority rests with the people, who can create, abolish, or alter their governments. The idea that all governments derive their power from the people is found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, but the term pop- ular sovereignty did not come into wide use until pre-Civil War debates over slavery. At that time, supporters of popular sovereignty argued that the citizens of new states seek- ing admission to the union should be able to decide whether or not their states would allow slavery within their borders.
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political ideology
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The coherent set of values and beliefs about the purpose and scope of government held by groups and individuals. Political Ideology 1.6 . . . Assess the role of political ideology in shaping American politics. On September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists, all of Middle Eastern origin and professing to be devout Muslims engaged in a \”holy war\” against the United States, hijacked four airplanes and eventually killed over 3,000 people. The terrorists’ self-described holy war, or jihad, was targeted at Americans, whom they considered infidels. Earlier, in 1995, a powerful bomb exploded outside the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing nearly 170 people, including many children. This terrorist attack was launched not by those associated with radical Islam, but with an American anti-government brand of neo-Nazism. Its proponents hold the U.S. government in contempt and pro- fess a hatred of Jews and others they believe are \”inferior\” ethnic groups and races. These are but two extreme examples of the powerful role of political ideology— the coherent set of values and beliefs people hold about the purpose and scope of gov- ernment—in the actions of individuals.13 Ideologies are sets or systems of beliefs that shape the thinking of individuals and how they view the world, especially in regard to issues of \”race, nationality, the role and function of government, the relations between men and women, human responsibility for the natural environment, and many other matters.\”14 They have been recognized increasingly as a potent political force. Isaiah Berlin, a noted historian and philosopher, noted that two factors above all others shaped human history in the twentieth century: \”one is science and technology; the other is ideological battles—totalitarian tyrannies of both right and left and the ex- plosions of nationalism, racism, and religious bigotry that the most perceptive social thinkers of the nineteenth century failed to predict.\”15 It is easier to understand how ideas get turned into action when one looks at the four functions political scientists attribute to ideologies. These include: 1. Explanation. Ideologies can provide us with reasons for why social and political conditions are the way they are, especially in time of crisis. Knowing that Kim Jong-Il rules North Korea as a totalitarian society helps explain, at least in part, why he continues to threaten to use nonconventional force. 2. Evaluation. Ideologies can provide the standards for evaluating social conditions and political institutions and events. Americans’ belief in the importance of the individual’s abilities and personal responsibilities helps explain the opposition of some people to the Obama administration’s health care reforms. 3. Orientation. Much like a compass, ideologies provide individuals with an orientation toward issues and a position within the world. When many African American women, Oprah Winfrey among them, decided to campaign for Barack Obama and not Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, their sense of identity as African Americans may have trumped their identity as women. 4. Political Program. Ideologies help people to make political choices and guide their political actions. Thus, since the Republican Party is identified with a stead- fast opposition to abortion, anyone with strong pro-life views would find the party’s stance on this issue a helpful guide in voting.
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conservative
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One who believes that a government is best that governs least and that big government should not infringe on individual, personal, and economic rights. CONSERVATIVES According to William Safire’s New Political Dictionary, a conservative \”is a defender of the status quo who, when change becomes necessary in tested institutions or practices, prefers that it come slowly, and in moderation.\”16 Conservatives tend to believe that a government is best when it governs least. They want less government, especially in terms of regulation of the economy. Conserva- tives favor local and state action over federal intervention, and they emphasize fiscal responsibility, most notably in the form of balanced budgets. Conservatives are also likely to believe that domestic problems such as homelessness, poverty, and discrim- ination are better dealt with by the private sector than by the government.
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social conservative
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One who believes that traditional moral teachings should be supported and furthered by the government. Since the 1970s, a growing number of social conservative voters (many with religious ties, such as the evangelical or Religious Right) increasingly have affected politics and policies in the United States. Social conservatives believe that moral de- cay must be stemmed and that traditional moral teachings should be supported and furthered by the government. Social conservatives support government intervention to regulate sexual and social behavior and have mounted effective efforts to restrict abortion and ban same-sex marriage. While a majority of social conservatives are evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics, some Jews and many Muslims are also social conservatives. Others are not affiliated with a traditional religion.
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liberal
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One who favors governmental involvement in the economy and in the provision of social services and who takes an activist role in protect- ing the rights of women, the elderly, minorities, and the environment. LIBERALS A liberal is one who seeks to change the political, economic, and social status quo to foster the development of equality and the well-being of individuals.17 The meaning of the word liberal has changed over time, but in the modern United States, liberals generally value equality over other aspects of shared political culture. They are supportive of well-funded government social welfare programs that seek to protect individuals from economic disadvantages or to correct past injustices, and they generally oppose government efforts to regulate private behavior or infringe on civil rights and liberties.
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moderate
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A person who takes a relatively centrist or middle-of-the-road view on most political issues. MODERATES In general, a moderate is one who takes a relatively centrist view on most political issues. Aristotle actually favored moderate politics, believing that domi- nation in the center was better than any extremes, whether dealing with issues of wealth, poverty, or the role of government. Approximately 35 percent of the popula- tion today consider themselves political moderates.
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libertarian
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One who believes in limited govern- ment and no governmental interfer- ence in personal liberties. Problems with Ideological Labels In a perfect world, liberals would be liberal and conservatives would be conservative. Studies reveal, however, that many people who call themselves conservative actually take fairly liberal positions on many policy issues. In fact, anywhere from 20 percent to 60 percent of people will take a traditionally conservative position on one issue and a traditionally liberal position on another.18 People who take conservative stances against \”big government,\” for example, often support increases in spending for the elderly, education, or health care. It is also not unusual to encounter a person who could be considered a liberal on social issues such as abortion and civil rights but a conservative on economic or pocketbook issues. Many also view themselves as libertarians. Political scientists generally do not measure for this choice. Libertarians believe in limited government and decry govern- mental interference with personal liberties. Libertarians were among many of those who protested various government policies in the tea party movement.
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politics
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The study of who gets what, when, and how—or how policy decisions are made. As the American population has changed over time, so has the American political process. Politics is the study of who gets what, when, and how—the process by which policy deci- sions get made. This process is deeply affected by the evolving nature of the American citizenry. Competing demands often lead to political struggles, which create winners and losers within the system. A loser today, however, may be a winner tomorrow in the ever changing world of politics. The political ideologies of those in control of Congress, the executive, and state houses also have a huge impact on who gets what, when, and how.
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American dream
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An American ideal of a happy, suc- cessful life, which often includes wealth, a house, a better life for one’s children, and for some, the ability to grow up to be president Nevertheless, American political culture continues to bind together citizens. Many Americans also share the common goal of achieving the American dream—an American ideal of a happy and successful life, which often includes wealth, a house, a better life for one’s children, and for some, the ability to grow up to be president. A 2009 poll revealed that 44 percent of Americans believe they have achieved the Amer- ican dream, and another 31 percent expect that they will attain it in their lifetimes.19 (To learn more about the American Dream, see Politics Now: What Happens to the American Dream in a Recession?)

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